A "Leap" Onto "The Band Wagon": Bakula Stars in Dancing in the Dark

By Kenneth Jones
January 25, 2008

Tony Award nominee Scott Bakula, star of TV's "Quantum Leap" and Broadway's Romance/Romance, will play song-and-dance man Tony Hunter in Dancing in the Dark, the new stage musical based on the movie "The Band Wagon."

Bakula takes the role of the faded showman played by Fred Astaire in the 1953 picture, a favorite of movie musical fans. The show's librettist Douglas Carter Beane previously told Playbill.com that Tony has been somewhat reinvented for Dancing in the Dark (as have other elements of the source material): Now, Tony is more Bing Crosby showman than Astaire athlete, Beane said.

The musical, directed by Gary Griffin (The Color Purple) and choreographed by Warren Carlyle (an Encores! veteran), makes its world premiere at The Old Globe in San Diego March 4-April 13. Rehearsals begin Jan. 25.

The musical draws on the picture's original screenplay by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. The writers' studio contract ended in the middle of the project, which is the reason why the second half of the picture seems to turn into a montage-filled revue, Beane said. The playwright of As Bees in Honey Drown and The Little Dog Laughed told Playbill.com that his goal is to honor "Betty and Adolph" and flesh out stories, deepen characters and marry music to moments. The lengthy "detective ballet" at the end of the film (apparently partly created by Alan Jay Lerner) is not in the new stage version.

As previously reported, the principal cast will also include Sebastian LaCause (The Rocky Horror Show, Once Upon a Mattress and Chicago) as Paul Byrd, a modern-dance choreographer; Mara Davi (A Chorus Line, The Drowsy Chaperone) as modern dancer Gaby, who is crossing over into musicals and catching the eye of Tony; Tony Award winner Beth Leavel (The Drowsy Chaperone) and Adam Heller (Make Me a Song) as Lily and Lester Marton, performers and musical comedy writers think Comden and Green who are old pals of Tony's; and Patrick Page (The Lion King, How the Grinch Stole Christmas) as Jeffrey Cordova, the artsy legit director who turns a traditional musical into a pretentious mess.

Benjamin Howes will play Hal, the stage manager, a role "built up" in the show; and Jacob Ben Widmar will play a chorus boy named Teddy, based on Ted Hook the chorus boy turned restaurateur.

The troupe also includes Rachel Coloff, Dylis Croman, Nicolas Dromard, Cara Kjellman, Adam Perry, Eric Santagata, Kiira Schmidt, Branch Woodman and Ashley Yeater.

Dancing in the Dark has music by Arthur Schwartz and lyrics by Howard Dietz. Music supervisor is Eric Stern, music director is Don York and orchestrator is Larry Hochman. The design team includes scenic designer John Lee Beatty, costume designer David Woolard, lighting designer Ken Billington, sound designer Brian Ronan. Stage manager is Dan Rosokoff.

Bakula is a 1988 Tony Award nominee as Best Actor in a Musical for Romance/Romance, and a Drama Desk nominee for 3 Guys Naked From the Waist Down. The four-time Emmy Award nominee starred in TV's time-traveling series, "Quantum Leap" (for which he won a Golden Globe Award), "Star Trek: Enterprise" (as Capt. Jonathan Archer) and was Murphy Brown's beau on the sitcom "Murphy Brown."

At Ford's Theatre in 2006, he starred as the patriarch Charlie Anderson in Shenandoah. On Jan. 18 he performed a concert in Washington, DC, to benefit the historic Ford's Theatre. Bakula's other Broadway credits are Marilyn (he played Joe DiMaggio) and Is There Life After High School?

According to The Old Globe, "In Dancing in the Dark, Tony Hunter is a Hollywood star with a career on the wane. Jeffrey Cordova is a Shakespearean actor-manager with a taste for high art. Together they team up with a diverse assortment of theatrical personalities to create a new musical that's strictly 'entertainment.' With a score packed with classics like 'A Shine on Your Shoes,' that quintessential ode to show business 'That's Entertainment!,' and the title song, Dancing in the Dark is the musical comedy that will have audiences dancing in the aisles."

For more information visit www.TheOldGlobe.org.